Meet Kirsten Han, Journalist, Social Activist And Self-Professed Crazy Cat Lady
And like Dr Thum, Ms Han was recently summoned to testify before the Select Committee On Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
But short of her journalistic work, not much is known about her to the public.
Until now, that is. Here’s 10 things you should know about the journalist/activist/self-proclaimed crazy cat lady.
1. She isn’t a one-issue pony (or cat)
Some activists are concerned about just one issue, but not Ms Han. She throws herself into multiple social causes at a time.
The most-well known of these is her work to abolish the death penalty.
Ms Han is the co-founder of We Believe in Second Chances, a movement that lobbies to abolish the practice.
The group believes that mandatory death sentences do not take any mitigating factors into account.
This heartstring-tugging article sums up Ms Han’s views quite nicely.
2. She calls out BS
Not one for nonsense, Ms Han is also quick to rebut op-eds in newspapers that publish her own work.
She was quick to point out certain discrepancies in a column written by Englishman Jeevan Vasagar in The Guardian this year.
The article, initially titled “Colonialism can work – just look at Singapore” now goes by a different name.
Most Singaporeans reading the article frowned over how the article glosses over the darker consequences of colonial rule.
Like them, Ms Han felt that it provided an unusually glowing depiction of British stewardship in Singapore.
Singapore is still a profoundly unequal society in which many people are considered “unskilled labourers” living in poor conditions. We just call them migrant workers now. https://t.co/uHg4WsPfBY pic.twitter.com/etfIfa8ZcS
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) January 4, 2018
Maybe that’s the reason for The Guardian‘s new headline that questioned the benefits of colonialism instead of decreeing them.
3. She recently had a bid to start a company denied
Skimmers of this week’s news headlines might have seen Ms Han’s name pop up quite a bit.
In case you couldn’t be bothered to click on those headlines, here’s a brief rundown of the situation.
A joint application from Ms Han and Dr Thum to register a company was rejected because it would be “contrary to Singapore’s national interests”.
The proposed company was said to have been funded indirectlyp by liberal-leaning billionaire George Soros.
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority’s statement on the matter can be read here.
4. Twitter thread about “policies that are very problematic” in Singapore:
Singapore isn’t perfect. Everyone knows that.
Judging from her Twitter, Ms Han seems to know it better than most.
It started with a random denizen of Twitter asking Ms Han which elements of Singapore’s policies she regarded as “racialist or racist”.
Instead of a curt reply to the faceless individual, she instead replied with an entire thread, chock-full of examples.
She pointed out practices such as using the colonial model of putting citizens in boxes labelled Chinese, Malay, Indian or Others (CMIO), the lack of anti-discrimination laws and discrimination against Malays in the Armed Forces.
There are many policies that are very problematic, so excuse me for starting a thread here to mention some of them (in no particular order)… https://t.co/9DG4MINId7
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) January 17, 2018
5. She’s got jokes
Evidently, intimate knowledge of Singapore’s history comes with a certain cynical sense of humour.
Dr Thum’s got it, as seen at the Select Committee hearings.
And so does Ms Han, although hers operates better in Twitterverse. Check out some of her best one-liners:
There was the time she poked fun at the unusual participants in the SG50 National Day Parade.
Comfort DelGro shouldn’t be marching so neatly. They should say they're changing shift then go in totally opposite direction. #NDP2015
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) August 9, 2015
Her retweet game is pretty strong, too. Like this time she retweeted this satirical look at a journalistic career:
6. She discovered that Sang Nila Utama was jacked
Did you know that before discovering Singapore, Sang Nila Utama was a devout adherent of CrossFit?
This mindblowing discovery was made by Ms Han while flipping through a Primary 4 Social Studies textbook.
No one asked for this. But still, here it is.
7. She’s inked
We hope that in 2018, you no longer have any hang-ups about tattoos.
Ms Han proudly sports 3 ink jobs that give her loads of street cred.
Unfortunately, the tattoo on her wrist has been temporarily marred by a furry friend. Whether it was Saltire or Houdini (her two cats) who did the crime, we may never know.
8. Sorry guys, she’s taken
Sorry to break your heart, dudes. She’s spoken for.
Ms Han has been living the married life since 2014, when she married her Scottish beau, Calum Stuart in his hometown.
However, not all has been smooth sailing for the couple.
Income rules in the United Kingdom made it “impossible” for the couple to live in the country. Undeterred, they have been living together in Singapore ever since.
9. She’s a purveyor of cafes
As with the rest of us, Ms Han occasionally gives into shelling out for an overpriced cuppa.
The spirit of adventure lives on in her decision to sip from a literal coconut at a hipster cafe.
10. She has two cats, Saltire and Houdini
We promised that this list wouldn’t be about her cats, but Ms Han makes it impossible not to mention Saltire and Houdini.
Her Instagram feed is inundated with pictures of her two beloved kuchings, and who can blame her?
Just look at them.
She’s got a good taste for names, too.
A saltire is another name for the Saint Andrew’s Cross, which can be seen on the flags on countries such as Scotland and Jamaica.
Houdini is, of course, named after illusionist Harry Houdini, who was famous for his daring escapes from seemingly impossible situations.